Vocational training is often overlooked in these college-focused times, but there is one place where young painters and other industrial tradespeople still take the world’s center stage.
|PPG training director Robin Zhang points out some of the action at the recent auto refinish competition to Gu Weidong (left), director of Shanghai’s Occupational Skill Testing Center, and Mou Jun, director of China’s Employment Training Technical Instruction Center.|
The WorldSkills International Competition (formerly known as the Skill Olympics), sponsored by the Dutch-based nonprofit WorldSkills International, is now in its 62nd year, and a key qualifying painting competition just wrapped in China.
The automotive refinish competition was held at PPG Industries’ Shanghai Training Center, which opened in May. PPG helped organize the competition and provided tools, facilities and premium car-painting products for contestants from across the country.
WorldSkills’ mission is to “promote worldwide awareness of the essential contribution that skills and high standards of competence make to the achievement of economic success and individual fulfillment.”
Or, as the group puts it more simply: “Without skills, there is no global economy.”
The group also enables the exchange and comparison of competency standards in the industrial trades and service sectors.
WorldSkills mounts multiple ongoing events and activities around the world to further its mission. Membership is open to organizations that are responsible for promoting vocational education and training in their countries and regions.
The highlight is the International Competition, a biennial event that will be held next in 2013. The event draws hundreds of young skilled people, teachers and trainers from all over the world to compete before the public and test themselves against international standards.
Those competitors advance through regional and national skill competitions held in 50 countries and regions.
Painters in Demand
The qualifying events included the recent auto refinish competition in Shanghai, which was sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resources and several municipal agencies.
Competitors applied prime coats and finishes to different materials, and repaired paint surfaces. They removed, marked out and replaced vehicle body parts; prepared vehicle surfaces; treated the vehicle with protective chemicals; and removed rust.
| WorldSkills International|
|“Without skills, there is no global economy,” says WorldSkills International, which works with vocational education professionals in 50 countries and regions. The organization’s highlight is its International Competition, held every other year.|
Contestants used sanding machines and other tools; they were required to know different sanding techniques and materials, fillers, primers and rustproofing chemicals, and insulating, sanding and filling paints.
Contestants also were tested on the phases of surface painting, mixing and matching paints to make tones, performing touch-up paintwork, and completing other repairs. Recognition was given to competitors who attained the greatest degree of perfection in the entire process.
Spray Finishing Training
The vast, and fast-growing, automotive refinish market in China has created high demand in that country for spray-finishing talent.
PPG’s Shanghai Training Center—its fourth training center in China—was designed to help meet that need.
Along with established PPG centers in Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, the new Shanghai facility provides enhanced training experiences for technicians from Chinese automotive manufacturers, service centers and car dealers.
The Pittsburgh-based paint and coating maker has supported vocational education programs for automotive refinish in China since 2004, when the company initiated a school-enterprise cooperative program. PPG continues to develop relationships with vocational schools.
In early 2011, PPG entered into a School-Enterprise Cooperative Agreement with the Ministry of Education, marking the beginning of official occupational training for automotive coatings in China. PPG has also actively engaged in and organized major spray-finishing competitions in China in recent years.
With the new Shanghai facility, the company was a natural to host the painting competition.
Partnering with WorldSkills on the painting event was a good fit, given its "60-year history of encouraging and recognizing excellence in vocational training,” PPG said.
"As a leading refinish coatings supplier, PPG is honored to cooperate with the government to support and host this event," said Pauline Yuen, PPG vice president, refinish coatings Asia. "PPG shows its commitment to the development of China’s automotive refinish industry by continuing to invest in talent-development programs for spray finishing.”